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Collapsed finance companies
A few months ago, a Sunday newspaper publishing the re-opening of the former
Pramuka Bank, was a welcome relief for depositors, many of whom have dumped
their life savings into this institution on the promise of a better future.
There are now rumblings of discontent, however amongst depositors many may not
be able to remove their full deposits and could be sorted out with the
management and the government.
The depositors are sure something is happening and expect part of their deposit
in the near future.
The case of collapsed Finance Companies during the UNP regime in 1989/90; was
due to the failure of the Central Bank Department of Non-banking Financial
Institutions to monitor the working of finance companies.
The UNP government took no action to give relief to the depositors who became
destitute overnight, nor were any charges made against these bogus directors,
who were only confidence tricksters of the collapsed finance companies, but
allowed to go scot free and some of these directors are living in comfort in Sri
Lanka and abroad. This was one reason the UNP became very unpopular since 1990
and lost all elections.
It was only the former President Chandrika Banadaranaike Kumaratunga who gave at
least some relief by directing officials to settle the claims of the depositors
by selling the HPT Ltd. head office building to the Insurance Corporation and
the depositors were paid 50% of their claim in May/June 1996.
We wrote to the liquidators in March 2006 and we were told to be patient and
possibly be paid after 1 or 2 years. Again we wrote this year 2008, and again we
were asked to wait a further 1 or 2 years. In their reply, it appears the
government is holding the paying compensation, as several lands and portions of
lands taken over by the state for development purposes, road widening etc. and
these rested with the Reform Commission under the LRC Law No. 1 of 1972 and the
liquidators are helpless.
By far the most valuable property is the block of land called Kolonunnekumbura
(over two acres) situated along the Nugegoda - Pepiliyana High Level Road, which
could fetch well over Rs. 150 million, plus other property. There were about
3000 depositors who invested their life’s savings in 1990, on retirement at the
ago of 60 years and now they would be aged 78 years, these depositors are now
old and feeble and may not live long.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa should now act fast and instruct his officials to
settle the claims by releasing these lands or compensation be paid, to pay the
depositors, but may be hampered by government red tape.
There is an old saying that ‘the mills of God grind slowly but surely,’ what
happened to the UNP in the last two decades may happen to the present
government, at the next general election, since they are now very unpopular, due
to the spiraling cost of living.
Over to you, President Mahinda Rajapaksa for action!.
F. A. Rodrigo Sattianandthen
Calculators, Maths, Science and Technology
Dr. (Mrs.] M. T. Raffai has expressed the view that students should be allowed
to use calculators and Mohamed Zahran has justified his opposition and also has
made a practical and worthy suggestion to introduce Arithmetic as an alternative
subject for those who are weak in Maths. Authorities in charge of education
should consider and implement the proposal without a delay
The use of calculators has resulted in some student being unable to add three
different numbers without the use of a calculator. Krishnamurthi prophetically
warned of an impending situation in 1970; “What would happen to the human being
when the computer takes over all the functions of the brain?.” he asked. Mental
lethargy is inevitable if students are allowed to use calculators at their young
age. When the calculator was not in use, students studied the multiplication
tables printed on the back page of an exercise book and such a study becomes
redundant if students are allowed to get addicted to the frequent use of
calculators. Currently even the fish stall mudalali uses a calculator to sell
few kilos of fish priced marked for 500 grams. The wayside street vendor uses a
calculator, though some of them have passed the GCE O Level examination. The
writer purchased 6 ‘thoses’ from a van selling food items, and the young boy
seller used a calculator to determine the amount. To my utter surprise the boy
had passed the GCE A Level with a credit pass in Maths.
Technology should be used to enhance the quality of service and work efficiency.
But to those who were able to finger count [hundred] notes in a packet of cash
consisting of hundred notes before calculators were introduced, cannot adduce
reasons of efficiency to machine count five notes. Shrofs/ Cashiers in
Government Service finger counted even large receipt or payment amounts. Bank
staff Mercantile, Public Servants, and clerks in large wholesale establishments
were able to add over ten or even twenty items written in a ledger without
calculators. The present calculator usage to some extent degrades the proficient
use of the brain and thus Mrs. Raffai’s suggestion should not be implemented in
respect of students. Parents too should dissuade children from getting addicted
to the use of calculators until they have passed the school examinations. Adults
using calculators could enhance efficiency and accuracy.
The Commissioner of examinations had contemplated [news item] reducing the
qualifying marks in mathematics for the A Level examination, as 57 percent of
the students failed but, since mathematics, science and technology command a
supreme position in industrial development, the quality of mathematics teaching
should be upgraded.
If Sri Lanka could dream to achieve industrial development, of the scale of the
newly developed countries, mathematicians and scientists with an exclusive
knowledge are necessary.
Thus the quality of teaching of mathematics and science should be enhanced and
not lowered. Calculators and mathematics are intended to overcome the problems,
but are not proposals to solve the problems, in the student interest.
Essential food items soaring daily
The cost of living is sky-rocketing with the prices of most essential items of
food being daily increased, resulting in people finding it very difficult to
exist and keep their heads above water.
In addition to food, the prices of gas, electricity, water and telephone bills
too are being increased monthly without any tangible reason, to cover up the
waste and corruption and expenditure on tamashas, foreign trips ( on work that
could be done by the High Commissioners in those countries), and inefficient
The present period is not second to the time during the late PM Sirimavo
Bandaranaike when we were asked to tighten our belts by eating, ‘ala’, ‘batala’
and lick the palm to drink tea.
When Sirimavo was hospitalised, she found that the invalid’s Marmite was not
imported, and she immediately gave orders to import this particular invalid food
item forthwith. Are we in a better position now?
It was taught to us that the best way to prove a point was to quote anything in
figures whereever possible. Therefore I give below the prices few items of food
that I took at random from some supermarkets at Nawinna and Maharagama:
All the prices mentioned are per kilo:
Red onions Rs. 112.84, White kekulu 65/-, Kiri Samba 131/-, Mysore Dhall 276/-,
White sugar 69/-, Brown Sugar 95/- Green gram125/-, Chick peas 177/-.
Tea Ceylonta Rs. 240/- (400g) Laogi tea 400g Rs. 234/- Coffee Rs. 662/-
Milk-Anlene Full cream Rs. 300/- 400g. Anchor full cream Rs. 300/- 400g. Bonlac
Rs.797/- 800g, Nestomalt Rs. 210/- 400g pkt.
Big onions Rs. 112.84/- Garlic Rs. 3.39.
Vegetables: Thalanabatu Rs. 87/- Leeks 101.10/- Pumpkin 50/- Coconut 42/- per
Fish - Sura Paraw Rs. 400/- Hurulla Rs. 79.90/- Talapath Rs. 82/-
Soap Rs. 27/- cake Harischandra Bar soap Rs. 200/- per bar. Khomba soap 45/- per
Oil - Coconut Rs. 190/- Bottle (which we find sometimes with cockroach parts and
we are forced to use vegetable oil. Turkey sunflower Rs. 1350/- (2 Lit)
Baby milk- Cow & Gate No. 3 Rs. 720/- per tin which was Rs. 680/- a few month
Telephone, water and Electricity bills are increased every few months.
The Government and the Ministers concerned should give their prior attention to
this burning problem which affects the poor, middle class and pensioners alike
who are under going untold hardships, and let them live without starvation.
V. K. B. Ramanayake
Unruly student monks
It was extremely embarrassing to view the behaviour of the unruly student monks
who forced the Police to take action with water cannons and tear gas.
There are likely to be many who will find fault with the Police for what ensued
during the demonstration and the sight of the student-monks robes in tatters,
sore eyes and embittered was not a scene that these student-monks should be
proud of. They have not achieved anything but public denunciation for their
actions. Before, denouncing the Police, it is best to ask whether the
student-monks are given free education to behave in such an unruly manner, they
purposely taunted the police and forced action to be taken on them – was it not
an insult to the robe and Lord Buddha’s teachings? Surely their grievances could
have been better relayed through other courses of action, than to behave like
hooligans after a football match!
Many of these student-monks eventually derobe and take up new names (Mr….etc)
having benefited from free education provided by the government. In times where
it is easy to ‘dress up’ as a monk, it also highlights the security risks and we
should not forget that it was a Buddhist monk, or a man dressed as one, who
assassinated Sri Lanka’s second prime minister.
Unwholesome criticism by the media
The electronic and the print media of the government have made the Opposition
Leader a scapegoat for the purpose of hurling abuse and destructive criticism in
a most unseemly manner, forgetting all journalistic norms.
These two institutions resort to unethical methods of slandering and ridiculing
the Leader of the Opposition, forgetting the fact that he is an internationally
recognised leader and a sober politician, like one-time Prime Minister Dudley
During the his fairly long political career, he has held many ministerial posts,
including that of Prime Minister, and acquitted himself excellently, winning the
encomium of the people who belong to the grand old party i.e. the United
National Party and even people belonging to other political parties.In the
circumstances it is time the authorities concerned stepped in to order the
electronic and print media of the government to stop this most uncouth, unseemly
and shameful practice of slandering the Opposition Leader, for such unkind
practice is bound to incur the displeasure of the public at large, which is
already fed up with these two institutions.
R. M. L. Ratnayake (J.P.)
Boosting our village life
When we, as Sinhala Buddhists, boast of our unique 2500 year old culture, we
highlight our ancient village culture and that rustic, rural way of life. We
even specify that our village was in close proximity of a Wewa, Dagoba and
Pansala. No mention is made even of a ‘polathu school,’ a Grama Sevaka, or any
administrative body. It has to be presumed that the men are farmers, either
paddy or chena. Even the Mahawansa does not describe as to how the ordinary
people lived, under the King. Our chronicles mention the lives of our Kings but
nothing of his vassals (Gettho), who had to perform Rajakariya by royal decree
and live in servitude. Only royalty could use chairs or beds or couches and the
vassals could not wear jewellery. The villages in those times were a feudal
system, with no citizens, but vassals who were called ‘Gettho.’ Those who
performed Rajakariya were not paid but were given land to cultivate and live on
the produce. Even their clothing was stipulated, without any finery even for the
women. Their houses were mud huts with cadjan or branch roofing, with an open
verandah where the only bed was to be seen with no mattress and spread with a
mat; one main door which led into the one living room and the kitchen (Muluthenge)
was at the rear, a low roofed mud structure with an open fire for cooking.
Usually, there was no well as they had to depend on the near by wewa for their
water, washing and bathing. During the drought they had to go miles in search of
water. Toilets were not heard of, even now in some very remote villages. This I
believe is a fair picture of our village before 1505, when with foreign
invasions, all ways of rural life changed.
The objectives of the JHU, JVP, and affiliated chauvinist groups are to get at
least the rural farmer folk to this way of life and live on the produce of the
land and ban all imports. Wheat, flour, sugar, apples, grapes, butter, cheese,
milk foods, foreign liquor and cigarettes are the culprits which transform our
rural lifestyles and drain our national revenue, by the billions each year,
forcing whatever government in power to beg for foreign aid for survival. So,
our visionary President identified the most undeveloped villages and pledged to
develop them with or without foreign aid or NGO intervention. However, no model
plan was stipulated on how these villages are to be developed like what
President Premadasa did, and to develop and retain the village values, customs
and traditions. Most of Presidnt Premadasa’s Gam Udawas are highly developed
towns with so many facilities. Will this ‘Gama Neguma’ too end up the same way
by transforming remote villages into small townlets?
However, I would request those sincere nationalists to watch the ‘Yeheliya’
teledrama episodes shown on Rupavahini and see what sordid crimes are committed
daily in our remote villages, where mostly helpless women and young girls are
subjected to rape and abuse and in most cases, incest and how they end up not in
any temple or Buddhist institution but in a convent where they are cared for
after their horrendous experiences. How has the ‘Dagoba’ and the ‘Pansala’
effacted their rural rustic lives? Is banning foreign liquor the only priority?
What about the kasippu which has become a growing industry? It is sad to say
that our monks have failed to protect our villages and have taken to politics
and professions to earn a salary and perks and live in luxury, blaming the
foreign forces for our plight.
T. L. A. Perera
Loss of great spiritual leader - Let us follow her Path
have lost a great guru and guide of outstanding and unique calibre.
She created a religious renaissance from Tellippillai and her life is a chapter
to be written in letters of gold letters in the history of Hindus by
Thevathirumagal Sivathamilz Selvi Dr. Thangammah Appacutty, who was a Hindu
Spiritual Leader in Jaffna, helping the needy children and elderly people and
teaching religious values and morals not only to people in Jaffna but to all
Hindus worldwide, passed away at the age of 83 on July 15, 2008 (Sunday) at
The Tamil Devotional Classic Puranam or ‘The Great Epic’ by Sekkirzhaar is the
saga of the sixty three Nayanars or Servitors of the Lord, who not only lived
for Him but adored Him in delightfully distinct ways. In that lineage, Sri La
Sri Arumuga Navalar who has been recognised by all Sri Lankans and the
government as one of the national heroes; is regarded as the sixty fourth
Nayanar. Sri Lanka and Jaffna, in particular, starved for several years without
a successor to that great Nayanar. This vacuum was filled by a great lady, who
has been a mother to all of us. That was ‘Thirumagal’ Sivathamilz Selvi Dr.
Professor Dr. T. N. Ramachandran, a renowned authority on Saiva Sitthanthan in
Tamil Nadu once said in his tribute that he hailed Dr. Thangamma Appacutty as a
lady of ‘Periya Puranam.’ It is not only her knowledge but her yeoman dedicated
service that acquired for her that praise. Dr. Thangammah was given several
titles and honours including the titles of ‘Sivagnana Viththagar’ at the 25th
anniversary of All Ceylon Hindu Congress, ‘Theiva Thirumagal’ at the Golden
Jubilee of All Ceylon Hindu Congress, Honorary Doctorate by the University of
Jaffna and ‘Kalasuri’ by the Government of Sri Lanka, the Global Award for the
best service by a Hindu by the Hawaii Shri Subramania Swamigal Ashram, USA.
‘Theiva Thirumagal’ was a title bestowed on her by the All Ceylon Hindu Congress
(Federation of Hindu Religious Associations and Trusts) when it held a Hindu
Religious Conference in July 2005 to commemorate its Golden Jubilee. ‘Theivam’
means the God, ‘Thiru’ means sacred, ‘magal’ means daughter. Yes, she was really
a divine daughter who came to be born in Jaffna in 1925 and remain as a servant
to mankind. She dedicated her life to serve others.
The trials and tribulations she cheerfully underwent, particularly in the
nineties and the incredible sacrifices she made in her service to mankind in the
name of Sakthi takes our breath away. Looking at her life history is to inhale
the air of sanctity and blessedness.
Having commenced her career as a teacher in Batticaloa, moving to Colombo and
thereafter settling in her own village Tellippillai, this unique Divine Daughter
led the reconstruction of the famous Amman Kovil, Tellippllai. Durga Amman Kovil
is one of the well known places of worship for Hindus. She did not just remain
as a glorified trustee of a temple, but instead, she went round the world and
lectured on teachings of our religion and spread the message that service to
mankind is a real prayer to the Almighty.
She created a laudable renaissance by spearheading a social service movement
from the temple to help the needy children and the elderly people in numerous
ways. It was the innovation brought in by Siva Thamilz Selvi to our society. Her
goal was to serve the needy people as part of her worship to the Almighty and
she succeeded in that and set an example for all of us.
The first lesson we Hindus learn from our religion is that Love is God. Loving
the Almighty should be only for the sake of love and not for any reward. Saint
Thirumoolar has sung in Thirumanthiram that Love and+ God are the same. Sir Pon.
Arunachalam has given (as follows) in English those words of wisdom:-
“The ignorant call Love
and Siva two different objects
No one knows that Love
and Siva are both the same
If one knows that Love is Siva
one will abide in grace
the form of Love and Siva.”
The archaeological studies of Hindu Temples in Tamil Nadu established that
community life was built around the Kovils. Even the cities came to be built in
that way. Educational, Cultural and Social services originated from the Kovils.
The best example thereof is Madurai Meenatchi Amman temple.
Our Thanga Amma (meaning ‘Golden Mother’) gave life to that concept in
Tellippillai. Her services were an example and eye opener for our people. Hindus
all over the world appreciated her services.
Thus, she created a new history by propagating the morals and ideals of our
religion not only through her teachings but by her service.
‘It is said that all good things are material to those who know their duty and
walk the path of perfect good.’ - (Translation of Thirukkural 981).
Her life is a good interpretation of this Kural.
She was the indispensable Mother to our children in the time of crisis. She did
not run away from the problems she faced in Jaffna due to the unfortunate
situation. When Tellippillai was affected by the war, she moved with her home’s
children and elders and gave them shelter in various places. Her courage and
determination is admirable. One of her children who was brought up by Thamilz
Selvi in her young days in one of her homes said Thamilz Slevi looked after her
and her children as if they were her own children and she cried. Even I could
not resist the tears that came to my eyes. She has really created a vacuum in
Our Thanga Amma rose to be a courageous leader of our community and taught all
of us that our religion is not meant only for temple worship but also for
service to others who are also the children of our God and we can pray to God
through such service too.
The noble path shown by our divine mother should penetrate into our society and
its culture and remain and take our society further and further on that path.
All Ceylon Hindu Congress
Federation of Hindu Religious
Associations and Trusts in Sri Lanka
Literary genius S. A. Wijeytilaka
The 37th death anniversary of S. A. Wijetilaka fell on June 22. He was the fifth
in a family of nine. His father served as the Headmaster of several schools in
Matale and was popularly know as S.M.P. (S. M. Perera)
S. A Wijetilaka was known as Ariyaratna (Ari to his friends, colleagues and
relatives) Ari started his schooling at the Buddhist Institute (Now Vijaya
College). After a few years he joined the well known Christ Church School.
Having completed his education at Matale he joined St. John’s College, Panadura.
After passing the seventh standard, he joined Ananda College, Colombo.
He had a brilliant career at Ananda. Here he won several prizes and steadily
built up a good library. He was particularly good in English, Latin, Greek and
History. He joined the University College in 1921, when Professor Mars was the
He passed his B.A (London) obtaining a First Class. Incidentally, he was the
first graduate that Matale produced. Although he could have obtained a lucrative
post under the government he chose teaching as a career. The other brothers took
to the practice of law.
His first appointment was at Dharmaraja College, Kandy. After a short period, he
joined Ananda College, Colombo, at the request of P. D. S. Kularatna. After
Kularatna founded Nalanda Vidyalaya he joined Nalanda and got married while at
From Nalanda, he was transferred back to Dharmaraja College, Kandy as Vice
Principal. When L. H. Mettananda became the Principal of Ananda, he was
appointed as Principal of Dharmaraja, in which capacity he served for nearly
eight years. He resided at ‘Lake View’ the official quarters of the Principal.
It was a place from where the entire Kandy town could be seen. When the post of
Principal Ananda College fell vacant, he was the popular choice. It was with the
greatest reluctance that he joined Ananda as he loved the idyllic situation of
‘Lake View.’ After his retirement from Anand,a he functioned as a member of
several boards and commissions. He had a fearless and independent outlook on
life and his speeches at different functions depicted his fearless personality.
At Dharmaraja College he was my English teacher and later my Principal. He was
the greatest influence in my life. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was
forced to study at different schools for very short periods; as a result, no
other teacher in any other school was able to exert any influence on me.
All his pupils had the highest respect for him and they used to proudly proclaim
that they studied at Ananda, Nalanda and Dharmaraja during the ‘Wijetilaka Era.’
He was a literary colossus almost a literary computer.
G. H. I. De Zoysa
Rev. Fr. Glen Fernando (CSSR)
Champion of the oppressed and downtrodden
Time dims the memory and with numerous problems confronting us in our daily
work. Regrettably, we as a nation generally forget even extraordinary persons
once they cross the great divide. However there are some persons who by their
exemplary lives, amazing charisma, and significant contribution to society leave
an indelible imprint in our hearts and minds. Memories of such persons linger
for ever, One such person was Rev. Fr. Glen Fernando, who passed away on July 4,
2007 at the age of 67.
Fr. Glen was a martyr for truth, freedom, human rights and human dignity. A
Redemptorist priest who literally adored the Redemptorist community and the
Catholic Church, living upto the ideals and holy ethics of his priesthood which
he abundantly and manifestly demonstrated by his exemplary life. He has left
behind a luminescence that passing time can hardly erase. He was a great and
Fr. Glen did not confine himself to the main stream of parochial activities. He
ministered to all, irrespective of religious and other differences. He was a
social apostle of national standing, especially building conviction among the
various communities. He was committed to social action and change of society
that is just and true. He continuously exhorted Christians to understand people
of other faiths. He would often refer to the famous words of Jonathan Swift “We
have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one
He was a multi-faceted personality, deeply religious, well read, a social
worker, championing the cause of the oppressed and down trodden. A thinker with
an incisive mind, he was also a very articulate preacher. His sermons were often
not on aspects of intricate theology. Scripture was brought to life with moral
lessons from his experiences of day to day living. He was able to speak simply
and clearly, interjecting with humor, which held congregations spellbound.
Rev. Fr. Glen he was a rare personality; he could associate with beggars and
kings with absolute equanimity, a rare trait which drew people to him. His heart
though was very much with the poor; those both materially and spiritually, and
the downtrodden. His religious piety, exemplary and ethical conduct, integrity
and high moral values left an indelible impression on all those he came into
Staying true to his teaching and what seemed to be very clearly his mission.
Fr. Glen pursued with tremendous energy, his passion form uplifting the lives of
those forgotten and shunned by society, the Lepers. He spent most all his
earthly life, on many an occasion neglecting his health, going around the
country, making sure that the patients in the leprosy colonies, had a decent
lifestyle and that the basics such as education and healthcare were accesible to
them. The Society for the Upliftment and Rehabilitation of Lepers (SUROL) was
very close to his heart. Fr Glen guided the Society with great dedication and
enthusiasm. At the time of his death the Society was caring for approximately
500 persons with leprosy, with the love and care that was incomparable and
undoubtedly a conduit of life for this community.
His heart was always with the poor the destitute, and the young spiritual
dropouts. By his exemplary life style and accessibility, he was such a shining
example of character that he was able to bring many youth, who had strayed away,
back to the fold. His understanding of the problems of modern living helped
bring together many young couples who had separated or were on the verge of
Fr Glen, you left a blazing trail, not through the pursuit of fame, fortune, or
recognition that most of us are embroiled in, in our earthly pursuits. Yours was
one of service, and contribution Father. Many lives have breathed easier because
you graced this earth for 67 glorious years. We thank God for that and long for
more of you, more so those 500 people whom loved you so much. God knew best
though and took you back to be with him in his glorious Kingdom.